Culling of chickens in Afghanistan would have to wait until areas affected by H5N1 bird flu is provided with protective clothing by the U.S. forces, according to health officials belonging to the Agriculture Department of Afghanistan.
Bird flu infection has been confirmed in the eastern province of Nangarhar and Kabul. Although the Government officials had stated that massive culling of poultry would be implemented with immediate effect, the poor supply of protective clothing has caused delay.
'Afghanistan is doing its best to combat this but needs the assistance of the international community. Afghanistan's poultry production is small-scale with an estimated 12 million chickens in the country. It was essential that farmers get compensation for culled birds,' said Mostapha Zaher, Director, Afghan environmental protection agency.
The detection of the bird flu in Afghanistan makes it one of four Asian countries to confirm the presence of H5N1 avian influenza virus. The presence of bird flu was confirmed recently in Denmark and Israel. Ever since the bird flu infection emerged in 2003, nearly 100 bird flu related deaths have been reported, a majority of it from Asia.
Laboratory examinations done on dead chickens in the Laghman Wardak Afghan provinces have confirmed the presence of bird flu. Following detection, the samples have been sent to testing labs in Italy for further analysis and confirmation.
No human cases of bird flu has been reported in Afghanistan have been reported so far. However it is feared that it may lead to an outbreak with the veterinary and health sectors struggling to manage the current situation. It has been projected that approximately 100 protective suits would be needed to ensure operation of the two-person teams that would be involved in catching and culling birds.
Requests regarding supply of protective suits by the U.S. military is said to have taken place while a spokesman for the U.S. military said that he was totally unaware of any such issue. The U.S. military troops have been stationed at Afghanistan since late 2001, to combat the Taliban and other militants.
A sum of $500,000 has been sanctioned by the Government towards public information campaigns and import of bird flu vaccine, said on official involved in the anti-bird flu campaign.